Dec. 7, 2006
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SEASON IN REVIEW: The Fighting Irish (18-14, 10-4 BIG EAST) volleyball team had a memorable 2006 season that had many ups and downs. Among the highlights was Notre Dame making it to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th consecutive season, making the finals of the BIG EAST Championship for the 12th consecutive time and head coach Debbie Brown reaching milestone victory number 500.
A NOTEWORTHY ACCOMPLISHMENT: The Fighting Irish were selected to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th consecutive season and took on No. 10 Wisconsin on Dec. 1 in Madison.
* The 15 appearances is a distinction shared by just seven other schools.
* Ten of Notre Dame's `06 opponents earned invitations to the tournament: Hawai'i (No. 12 seed), Duke, St. John's Ohio, Louisville, Arizona State, Alabama, Missouri, Santa Clara and Northern Iowa. Notre Dame won three matches against this year's tournament field (St. John's, Alabama and Duke).
* The Irish were one of three BIG EAST teams that were chosen for the tournament (Louisville and St. John's). This was the largest contingent that the conference has ever sent to the NCAA Tournament.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NOTRE DAME IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame qualified for its first NCAA Championship in 1988, defeating No. 20 Penn State in the Joyce Center before falling to No. 4 Illinois ... the best NCAA Championship results for Notre Dame were a 1993 quarterfinal appearance and reaching the round of 16 in `88, `94, `95, `97 and 2005 ... Notre Dame is 14-16 (.466) in the NCAA Tournament ... 13 of the Irish losses have come to Big Ten schools, including five of the last six and seven of the last nine ... Notre Dame is 2-13 against Big Ten in the NCAAs including seven consecutive losses from 1993-2004 ... last season, Notre Dame defeated Dayton 3-2 in the opening round and Northwestern 3-0 in the second round before falling to No. 11 Wisconsin in the round of 16 ... this season Notre Dame lost a tough three gamer to No. 10 Wisconsin in the opening round
NOTES FROM THE NCAA WISCONSIN MATCH: Notre Dame had several noteworthy performances from the NCAA Tournament match against No. 10 Wisconsin.
* Notre Dame wrapped up the 2006 season with a three-game loss to No. 10 Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
* This was the third time in as many seasons, that Notre Dame had its season ended by the Badgers in the NCAA Tournament.
* The Irish fell to 1-6 against ranked opponents this season.
* Notre Dame is now 14-16 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
* Irish saw their record fall to 2-13 against the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament in volleyball.
* Junior Adrianna Stasiuk led the Irish attack with 12 kills. This was the seventh time she led the team in kills this year.
* Sophomore Mallorie Croal registered her seventh consecutive double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs.
* Freshman Jamel Nicholas led the team in assists with 25. It was her 11th time leading the team in assists this year.
* Senior Danielle Herndon picked up 17 digs to raise her season total to 582, which is the school's second most ever digs in a single season.
* Herndon's 27 times leading the team in digs also tied former Irish libero Meg Henican (2004) for the most times leading the team in digs in a single season.
* Head Coach Debbie Brown saw her record drop to 0-6 all-time against the Badgers.
A FAMILIAR OCCURRENCE: After upsetting higher seeded Cincinnati and St. John's in the BIG EAST Tournament, the Irish played against Louisville in the championship match. This was the 12th consecutive season that Notre Dame has played in the championship match and the second time in as many seasons that the Irish took on Louisville in the "big game".
THE PLACES WE WENT: Notre Dame had a very long road season and logged 20,046.33 miles this season through bus and planes to destinations.
A LONE BLOCKER: Christina Kaelin had 26 blocks this season, but 10 (38 percent) of which are solo blocks, which was by far the largest percentage of solo blocks on the team.
THE IRON GROUP: Three Fighting Irish players took the court in all 114 games this season (Justine Stremick, Ashley Tarutis and Danielle Herndon). This group of three can be dubbed the "Iron Women" for taking the court in every game played this season.
A CONSISTENT CHANGE: The Fighting Irish used 11 different lineups this season. Every single one of the lineups combinations used at least two rookies and sometimes as many as four rookies started at the same time.
A YEARLY TOTAL: These are the individual player, both season and career stats, that moved into the Irish record book this season.
* Junior Adrianna Stasiuk with her 23 double figure digs matches this season now has 67 in her career, which is fourth all-time only two behind Jenny Birkner. Her 18 double-doubles this season moved her into second along with Jessica Fiebelkorn with 42. Her 18 double-doubles this year was the fourth highest total for a single year, only one behind Fiebelkorn for third.
* Stasiuk reached double figures in digs 24 times this year, which placed her seventh on that list for a single season.
* Stasiuk streak of 10 consecutive matches with 10+ digs (Sept 17-Oct. 20) is tied for the fourth longest streak in a single season.
* Junior Ashley Tarutis totaled 860 assists this season and now has 3,583 assists in her career, which is fourth on the Notre Dame assists list only 102 behind Kristen Kinder for third place.
* Tarutis has now played in 350 consecutive games only 13 behind Meg Henican for the all-time lead at Notre Dame in consecutive games played.
* Sophomore Mallorie Croal's seven consecutive double-doubles (Nov. 11-Dec. 1) to end the season are the second most consecutive double-doubles registered for an Irish player in a single season (Christy Peters (10)).
* Freshman Christina Kaelin had five 20+-kill matches this season to finish tied for sixth in a single season. Christy Peters hold the all-time single season mark of nine (1994). After just her freshman season, Kaelin ranks just out of the Notre Dame all-time top-10 for career 20+-kill matches.
* Senior Danielle Herndon finished her career among the all-time Notre Dame greats in several of the dig categories. She finished with 1,256 career digs, which is good for fifth on the list.
* Herndon's 27 times leading the team in digs this season tied Meg Henican (2004) for the most in a single season.
* Herndon's 582 digs this year is second on Notre Dame's list for a single season behind Henican's 628 (2005).
* Herndon's ended her career with 55 matches of 10+ digs, which is fifth all-time at Notre Dame.
* Herndon's 13 career 20+ digs matches places her third all-time.
* Herndon's dig average this season of 5.11 is the highest single season average ever for a player at Notre Dame.
* The 936 digs that Herndon (582) and Stasiuk (354) combined for this season was the second highest total put together by teammates.
* Herndon's 28 matches with 10+ digs this season were third in a single season behind Henican (29-2004) and Henican (33-2005).
* Herndon's nine consecutive matches leading the team in digs from (Aug. 26-Sept. 15) was the third longest Irish streak for a single season.
* Herndon's 440 career games played are ninth all-time.
* Stasiuk and Herndon became only the 10th and 11th Irish players, respectively to reach the 1,000-career dig mark this season.
A GOOD (ASSIST) LEADER: Junior Ashley Tarutis led the team in assists in 85 of the last 96 matches.
DOUBLED UP: Junior Adrianna Stasiuk had a double-double in kills and digs in 18 of her 30 matches this season.
AN INTERESTING SITUATION: Notre Dame switched up its two setters junior Ashley Tarutis and Jamel Nicholas through out much of the season, where each one of them led the team in assists in at least 11 matches this year. Due in part to the two-setter approach no individual setter was ranked among the top-10 in the BIG EAST, but Notre Dame, as a team ranked second (14.78) in the conference in assists.
SENDING THEM BACK: Sophomore Justine Stremick ranked sixth in the conference with her average of 1.37 blocks per game. Her 27 solo blocks were among the conference leaders in the BIG EAST.
A POINT SAVER: Senior Danielle Herndon ranked fourth in the conference in digs per game at 5.11. The Irish led the conference in digs per game (17.70).
A TEAM IMPACT: As a team the Irish climbed to second in the conference in kills per game at 15.92, despite not having any individual ranked among the top-10.
SHE STOOD ABOVE ALL: Justine Stremick was not only the tallest player on the team at 6'3", she also had nearly more blocks with 156 this season than her next two closest teammates (Mallorie Croal and Kim Kristoff) combined, who totaled 164 together.
A DIFFERENT SEASON: The Irish were a different team once league play started, as they finished second in the BIG EAST in hitting percentage (.266). Notre Dame was also third in service aces per game (1.76). During regular season league play only, Notre Dame placed third in kills (16.27) and blocks per game (3.11)
GETTING IT DONE: Sophomore Justine Stremick finished fourth in the league in hitting percentage during regular season league only matches (.390).
FOUR WAS ABOUT RIGHT: Notre Dame went a solid 7-3 this season when playing four games; so losing a game somewhere in the first three ultimately was a key ingredient to success.
THE FIRST DAY WAS OUR BEST: Notre Dame went 6-4 this season on the first day of a road trip, having defeated Alabama, Butler, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Georgetown and fallen to then No. 16 Hawai'i, Cincinnati, No. 18 Ohio and No. 10 Wisconsin. Sophomore Mallorie Croal and junior Adrianna Stasiuk led the charge. Croal averaged 3.47 kills per game. Stasiuk had a team best average of 3.52 kills per game while also she also contributed 3.61 digs per game and 12 service aces.
FRIDAY WAS VERY GOOD TO US: Notre Dame went 8-2 on Friday match days. The Irish defeated Valparaiso, Alabama, Butler, Marquette, DePaul, Connecticut, Georgetown and Cincinnati. The Cincinnati match was the quarterfinals of the 2006 BIG EAST Championship. In those 10 matches Notre Dame had 70 service aces (1.94 per game) to the oppositions 37. Freshman Christina Kaelin enjoyed the Friday action, the most as she averaged 4.00 kills per game on Friday's this season. Junior Adrianna Stasiuk had steady performances on the first night of the weekend with an average of 3.28 kills per game and 3.92 digs per game. Sophomore Mallorie Croal also was a key contributor with her average of 3.26 kills per game.
LOVED THE HOME COOKING: Junior Adrianna Stasiuk really played well at home this season with averages of 3.17 kills per game to go along with 3.53 digs per game
ENJOYING THE ROAD: Sophomore Justine Stremick played well for Notre Dame in road matches on the year with 112 kills, a hitting percentage of .383 to go along with 55 blocks. Notre Dame is 6-7 in road matches on the season.
SHE'S SWITZERLAND: In neutral site games this season freshman Christina Kaelin was outstanding with a team leading average of 3.73 kills per game. The Irish went 4-3 in neutral site matches this season.
STASIUK AND STREMICK HONORED: The Irish had a pair of players honored, Nov. 9, as both junior Adrianna Stasiuk and sophomore Justine Stremick were named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Volleyball team. Stasiuk, a first-team selection with a 3.74 grade-point average as an accounting major, was named to the District V Volleyball team for the second time in her career. By virtue of her being a first-team selection she moved on to the Academic All-America ballot to be voted upon along with the 49 other first team members on the national ballot. Stremick was a third-team selection, as she had a 3.68 grade-point average as a science pre-professional major.
A SOLID RANKING: Notre Dame completed its 2006 home season ranking 14th nationally in attendance with an average of 1,849 fans per game and a total of 22,193 home fans saw the Irish play at the Joyce Center this season.
PACKING THEM IN: Aided by the football pep rally to follow, the attendance for Notre Dame's match against Marquette on Oct. 6 was listed at 5,743. That crowd was to that point the 15th largest nationally and the second biggest crowd ever for a Notre Dame volleyball match at home. That number of fans is behind only the 8,643 fans that packed the Joyce Center for the Virginia Tech match on Nov. 7, 2003, which was also a pep rally match.
AN UNFORGETTABLE MILESTONE: With the victory over Seton Hall on Sept. 30, head coach Debbie Brown won the 500th career matches in her 22-year career. She became only the 28th NCAA volleyball coach to ever attain 500 or more victories in a career.
A MEDIA FRIENDLY TEAM: The Irish played eight matches on television this season. Notre Dame dropped its first television match to then No. 13 Missouri on Sept. 2 and also fell to Northern Iowa on Sept. 9. The Irish picked up a TV win against DePaul on Oct. 13 before falling twice to then No. 16 Hawai'i on Oct. 16 and 17. The Irish then fell to St. John's in three games on Oct. 22. Notre Dame finished up their tough regular season TV schedule with a three game loss at the hands of Louisville on Sunday, Oct. 29. The Irish also took a five-game loss to Cardinals in the BIG EAST Championship Game, Nov. 19, which was shown on CSTV.
A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Sophomore Justine Stremick controlled the action around the net against Idaho in the Shamrock Invitational. She tallied 14 blocks, including 11 block assists against the Vandals. Her 14 blocks in the four-game match is tied with Mary Kay Waller for the third most blocks by an Irish blocker.
NOTRE DAME IN SEASON OPENERS: With a three game sweep of Bowling Green this season, Notre Dame won its lidlifter for 16 consecutive season, every year since head coach Debbie Brown arrived on campus. The last time the Irish started the season 0-1 was in 1990, when they lost in four games to Montana in the Washington State Invitational.
NEW LEADERS: With the graduation of both captains from last season, the Notre Dame volleyball team chose two new leaders for this season. The new captains were senior Danielle Herndon and junior Adrianna Stasiuk.
WHO'S BACK? The Notre Dame volleyball team returned three starter and seven monogram winners from 2005 squad. Among the returnees, besides Danielle Herndon and Adrianna Stasiuk, was all-time single season assist record holder (1,573) junior setter Ashley Tarutis. Also returning was junior outside hitter Ellen Heintzman, and sophomores Madison Clark, Mallorie Croal and Justine Stremick.
NEW FACES: The Notre Dame volleyball team reloaded with six highly touted freshman vying for the 2006 season. The freshmen this year were Tara Enzweiler, Megan Fesl, Christina Kaelin, Kim Kristoff, Jamel Nicholas and Serinity Phillips.
AN EXCEPTIONAL CLASS: The six student-athletes who comprised the 2006 freshman class for the University of Notre Dame women's volleyball team this season - MB Tara Enzweiler, OH/OPP Megan Fesl, OH Christina Kaelin, MB Kim Kristoff, S Jamel Nicholas and OH/OPP Serinity Phillips - earned high praise before even stepping on campus, as two publications ranked the group among the five best in the country. Volleyball magazine had Notre Dame third on its list of top recruiting classes appearing in the August issue, while PrepVolleyball.com placed the Irish fifth on a similar list. These cap off the accolades received by the group, which features four PrepVolleyball.com high school All-Americans, three Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selections, and two Gatorade State Players of the Year for volleyball.
Fesl, Kaelin, and Kristoff were on Volleyball's Girls Fab 50 list of the top high school seniors in the nation, announced in April. It is the first time since 1997 (Denise Boylan, Christi Girton, and Jo Jameyson) - and just the third time ever - that Notre Dame has had three Fab 50 picks in the same class. The other instance was the 1994 group of Angie Harris, Jaimie Lee, and Carey May. The Irish are one of only five schools that have three or more on the Fab 50 list, joining Penn State (four), Pepperdine (three), Texas A&M (three), and Wisconsin (three). Notre Dame has now had 23 players earn Fab 50 designation since 1990, including at least one in 11 of the last 13 years.
HONORS AND SELECTIONS: Junior outside hitter Adrianna Stasiuk and junior setter Ashley Tarutis were both chosen for the preseason all-BIG EAST squad.
Christina Kaelin was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4.
Justine Stremick and Christina Kaelin were both named to the Shamrock Invitational All-Tournament Team on Sept. 2.
Danielle Herndon was a member of the UNI Invitational All-Tournament Team, Sept. 9.
Adrianna Stasiuk and Justine Stremick both took home some hardware from the Courtyard by Marriott Classic. Stasiuk was named the Co-Best Attacker of the Tournament while Stremick was named the Best Blocker.
Adrianna Stasiuk was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the second time in her career on Sept. 25.
Serinity Phillips was the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week on Oct. 9.
Mallorie Croal was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Nov. 6.
Adrianna Stasiuk and Justine Stremick were both named to ESPN The Magazine District V volleyball teams. Stasiuk was a first-team selection while Stremick was a third-team member.
Adrianna Stasiuk and Mallorie Croal both earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors this season, while Justine Stremick was a second team selection for the first time in her career.
HOME FOOTBALL WEEKENDS: For the sixth time in seven years, the Notre Dame volleyball team played matches this season that preceded football pep rallies. The Irish started the home portion of BIG EAST play against Marquette with a 3-1 win on Oct. 6. The second pre-pep rally match also saw Notre Dame come up with a victory over conference rival Connecticut, 3-0 on Oct. 22.
IRISH ADD ONE FOR 2007: Notre Dame announced the signing of Kellie Sciacca to a national letter of intent to enroll and play volleyball during the 2007-08 season.
Sciacca a middle blocker is ranked 22nd among the top-100 Senior Aces according to PrepVolleyball.com. The Colorado native has been an All-Conference and All-State selection in each of the last two years at Lewis-Palmer. In her senior campaign, she was named a captain and averaged a team best 3.42 blocks per game, after leading the team in total blocks as a junior.
As a member of the Colorado Juniors Club Volleyball Team each of the last four years, Sciacca has aided the team to four consecutive regional championships and a national ranking as high as third.
Sciacca will be the fourth Colorado native to play for the Irish, but the first since a pair were on the roster in 1988 (Joanna Bruno and Chris Russo).
SHE'S THE BOSS: Irish head coach Debbie Brown just finished her 16th season as the leader of the Notre Dame volleyball program. She has led the Irish to a 392-136 mark (.742), while holding an overall record of 509-219 (.700). Brown's Notre Dame teams have earned 15 consecutive NCAA tournament bids, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1993 and the round of 16 in `94, `95,`97 and 2005. Her squads have won 20 or more matches 13 times. A 10-time conference coach of the year and the only five-time BIG EAST coach of the year (4 in the Midwestern Collegiate and one in the Pac-10), she has coached 12 Irish players to All-American honors. The Irish have also claimed 14 regular season conference titles (4 Midwestern Collegiate, 10 BIG EAST) and 13 league tournament titles (4 MCC, 9 BIG EAST) under her watch. A co-captain of the 1980 U.S Olympic volleyball team after winning a pair of national championships and earning All-American honors twice while playing at USC, Brown graduated from Arizona State in 1982 and coached her alma mater from 1983-88, helping the Sun Devils to five NCAA Tournaments.
A NEW MAN IN PLACE: The Fighting Irish in 2006 had a new assistant coach in place as Greg Smith, formerly the headman at Virginia Tech, joined the Notre Dame volleyball family this season. Smith compiled a record of 81-94 (.463), including 37-38 (.493) in his five years in command of the Hokies. Smith replaces Robin Davis who took the head position at Boise State. Also joining the volleyball coaching staff, as volunteer assistant was Kevin Lane. Lane is an experienced coach on several levels having most recently spent time at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, aiding the Mastodons to a runner-up finish at the National Independent University Tournament.
AN IMPRESSIVE STREAK: Notre Dame's current streak of 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances ranks behind only seven other schools nationally (Stanford (26), Penn State (26), UC Santa Barbara (26), Nebraska (25), Long Beach State (20), USC (16) and Florida (16)) for consecutive appearances in the Big Dance.
HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame's Joyce Center has become one of the most difficult places in the nation for road teams to win at, especially since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991. Over the last 16 seasons, Notre Dame has posted a 188-33 record (.851) home record. The Irish have put together some impressive winning streaks on the home court, winning 14 or more matches in a row at home on five different occasions, highlighted by a streak of 27 (1993-95), and 36 (2000-02) straight home victories. Notre Dame also won 74 in a row in regular season action against conference opposition from 1991-2004. On 15 different occasions Notre Dame has topped a ranked team at the Joyce Center, including five upsets of teams ranked in the top-10. During the Brown era Notre Dame holds a home record of 179-12 (.937) against unranked teams at home.
CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE: Notre Dame has experienced unprecedented success in the 11 years since joining the league in 1995. The Irish have compiled a 130-11 (.922) regular season mark, highlighted by 10 titles and winning streaks of 45 and 35 consecutive matches. Notre Dame is 72-3 (.960) in BIG EAST regular-season contests in the Joyce Center. The Irish have won nine BIG EAST tournament championships, posting a mark of 24-3 (.888) in the event and reaching the finals every season. The Fighting Irish have also dominated the conference awards; winning player-of the-year honors six times and coach-of-the-year five times. On nine occasions an Irish player has been named to the league tournament's most outstanding player. Also, Notre Dame players have taken home 43 all-conference accolades, including 26 first team honors.
A TEAM AWARD: Before the 2006 season began the Notre Dame volleyball team was one of 287 schools that were honored by the AVCA and received a Game Plan/ AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2005-06 season. The award goes to a team that maintains a team grade-point average of 3.30 during the school year. The Irish were one of 54 NCAA Division I volleyball programs to receive the award.
KEEPING UP WITH VOLLEYBALL: For the fastest results of Notre Dame volleyball matches call the Notre Dame sports hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #5 and #1. The hotline provides schedules and results information for all Irish varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the match recaps and weekly releases provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com. In addition, media members and fans can be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting sports information assistant Joe Prisco, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All requests for story ideas, interview access, match credentials and further information on Irish volleyball should also be directed to Prisco. Credential and interview requests should be made at least 24 hours in advance.